How to Actively Stretch your Lats

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How to Actively Stretch your Lats | Week 39 | Movement Fix Monday

The "What"

This week I want to show you how you can actively stretch your lats

The "Why"

The first "why" is "why stretch your lats". The lat anatomy is interesting. People consider the lat a "shoulder" muscle. The lat is just as much of a "back" muscle. It has broad attachments into your low back. It literally attaches your arm to your low back.

If your lats get really strong and stiff from doing tons of deadlifts and pull ups, you can develop so much strength and stiffness in them that they cannot lengthen well. This will limit your overhead mobility and pull your low back into extension.

The second "why" is "why stretch them actively". I tend to focus more on active stretching than passive stretching. Consider the two options of passive stretching vs active stretching. Passive stretching would be grabbing on to a vertical beam and using your legs to help pull you into a lat stretch. This may provide you with a sense of stretching, but it isn't teaching you how to actively get in to that position.

If you are doing active stretching, where you have to use the opposing muscles of the lat to lengthen it, you are learning multiple motor skills while improving the range of motion. You are teaching your brain how to let lat tension decrease while in varying shoulder positions. This is very valuable because moving your shoulder through this range of motion is as much of a skill as anything else.

The "How"

The how is best seen by watching the video, but I will explain a few details here.

You want to get into a kneeling, curled up ball position to put your low back into some flexion to tighten the lat attachment down there. From there, side bend away from the shoulder you are working on. Then slide your working hand up along the ground, thinking about reaching through the shoulder blade and lat. Ideally, you would be feeling a stretch sensation in the lat and through your side. If you feel the most 'stuff' on the top of your shoulder and not through your side, you need to make modifications; that isn't what we are looking for!

Perform 5-10 reps each side multiple times throughout the day. You can also couple this active lat stretch with some light kettlebell pressing to load the pattern after improving the range.

Thanks for reading!

-Ryan

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